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Yemenis march 270km to demand Saleh’s trial

Filed on December 21, 2011

SANAA - Thousands of Yemenis are marching 270 kilometres (170 miles) from Taez to the capital Sanaa demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s trial for alleged crimes against anti-government protesters.

The demonstrators, who are being joined by fellow Yemenis from towns and villages along the road to Sanaa, began their journey on foot on Wednesday morning and are expected to reach the capital on Sunday.

They are marching in protest against the Gulf-sponsored transition plan that gave Saleh and his closest relatives immunity from prosecution in return for his resignation after more than 33 years in power.

Fifty women are leading the march of mainly young protesters who launched the uprising against Saleh’s rule in January, according to the organisers from the Taez-based Youth Revolutionary Union.

They said the march was expected to swell to more than 50,000 protesters by the time it arrives in the capital.

The mass uprising has been met with a brutal government crackdown, leaving hundreds of people dead and thousands more wounded.

The organisers said they hoped the march will pressure the newly formed unity government to withdraw the promise of immunity for Saleh and other regime officials involved in the violent crackdown on the pro-democracy protests.

The tens of thousands of Yemenis who have braved the streets of the capital demanding regime change in recent months have held weekly protests against the Gulf Cooperation Council plan that promised Saleh immunity.

For the time being, Saleh holds the title of honorary president until elections are held in February when he will formally resign in favour of his deputy, Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

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